Life is chock full of decisions.
At 18, recent Carolina Forest graduate Bryar Johnson faces arguably one of his toughest — either stick with a commitment to play baseball at Coastal Carolina, or fulfill a lifelong dream of playing for a major league ball club.
The Panthers’ ace was selected in the 20th round of the MLB Draft on Wednesday, selected by the Kansas City Royals with pick No. 600.
“I got the phone call, and honestly I didn’t know what to really say,” Johnson said. “I was really speechless. I hoped that this would be the year this would happen … I’m so thankful, very thankful.”
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Though no decision has been made, Johnson said he is leaning toward accepting a deal with the Royals. A decision should be forthcoming, maybe as soon as Wednesday night or Thursday morning.
“Honestly, I don’t know … this is a really big decision,” he said. “But this has been something I’ve been waiting on for a long time, since I was 10-years-old. So I would say I’m leaning (toward signing on with the Royals).”
It is the second straight year a Carolina Forest baseball standout was selected in the MLB Draft, joining catcher Ryan Gold who was picked by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2016. In addition to them two, former Panthers Erich Knab and Paul Hazeres also were drafted directly out of high school.
In his senior season at Carolina Forest, Johnson finished with a 4-3 record. In 40 1/3 innings on the mound, he struck out 65 batters as opposed to 24 walks, winding up with a 1.56 ERA. For his work, he was an All-Region VI-5A and All-State 5A selection, in addition to being picked as a S.C. Select All-Star.
Along with being virtually unhittable, the Panther standout last season registered better than 90 mph on a radar gun.
Among those most proud of Johnson’s accomplishment was his coach, Joey Worley, who spent much of his time Wednesday double-tasking — tending to field work while also monitoring the MLB draft in case the pitcher’s name was called.
“I am beyond ecstatic for him and his family, (Johnson) has put in all the hard work,” the Carolina Forest baseball coach said. “I’ve had plenty of my kids go to college and get drafted, but this is the first one I can say was drafted out of my program. ... But he’s put in all the hard work, and I’m simply reaping the benefits.”
In addition to Johnson’s constant yearning to perfect his craft, Worley also credits the Mike Williams at Diamond Elite for helping take the hurler’s game to a new level.